Bullpen Report: May 21, 2013

• A day after blowing his third consecutive save chance, Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless tenth inning against the Yankees in a tie game this evening. Although it obviously wasn’t a save opportunity, Johnson was the pitcher of record when Nate McLouth hit the walk-off home run and before the game, Buck Showalter said that Johnson would still be used as the closer. While Johnson can’t really afford to blow another three consecutive saves, he’s still the man in the back of the bullpen with the support of his manager. Behind Johnson is Darren O’Day, who has been fantastic in 2013 (and 2012) with a 1.74 ERA, 3.56 FIP and a 9.58 K/9 on the season. O’Days control has left him a little this year with a 10.1 BB% after posting  a 5.3% BB% in 2012 and 6.8% in 2011 but if he can regress back to those normals this year, he should have the fancy peripherals to match the ERA.

Jordan Walden is now off of the DL and with Eric O’Flaherty and Johnny Venters both out with Tommy John Surgery, expect Walden to be the primary set up man in Atlanta. Those in holds leagues should certainly take notice as well. I wouldn’t be scared off by his unsightly 4.85 ERA as that’s on the heels of an unsustainable .436 BABIP. Although he’s only pitched 14 innings, Walden’s showcased his swing and miss stuff with a 12.4% SwStr% and a 27.1% K% and should continue to provide solid innings for the Braves and fantasy squads in needs of holds, ratio help or strikeouts in the eighth innings in Atlanta, and wherever they play on the road.

• One set up man comes back and another one goes down today as Santiago Casilla was placed on the 15-day DL with a cyst on his knee.  Jeremy Affeldt should now be the main set up option in San Francisco and like Jordan Walden, should again be counted on to receive some holds and any saves if anything were to happen to Sergio Romo. Behind Affeldt, I’d expect Javier Lopez to continue his LOOGY ways in the late innings and as a shot in the dark, I would think Jean Machi will be used in more higher leverage innings with Casilla on the shelf. In 13 innings pitched this year Machi’s struck out 13 batters against only three walks with a fastball that can reach the mid-90s.

• Nobody could have expected many saves out of Steve Cishek this year closing games in Miami but they really shouldn’t now, as Miami appears to have moved the closer-by-committee approach (hat tip to Marlins 12 from last night’s BR). Teams in need of saves should certainly pick up (or at least take a look at) Mike Dunn, Chad Qualls and/or A.J. Ramos but please be reminded that as the primary closer for the Marlins all year until now, Cishek still only received six save chances. My guess is that Cishek works his way back into the role with Mike Dunn receiving opportunities against a lefty heavy lineup in the ninth, but be sure to keep an eye on Qualls or Ramos if you are still desperate for saves, and I mean desperate. Saves are saves are saves but any way you slice this situation, it’s neither pretty nor fruitful with many saves.  Closer controversies are normally must see drama, but I’d understand if you would rather just change the channel on this season of The Real Housewives Closers of Miami.

Fernando Rodney‘s job was never in actual danger but Joel Peralta was a nice speculative add for saves down the road. However, Peralta struggled in the eighth inning tonight and Rodney pulled out the five-out save, for his ninth of the season. It wasn’t necessarily a clean one for Rodney as he let two runners reach base while allowing one to score on a wild pitch but with back-to-back saves for TB, his job is secure, or in our world, green.
Closer Grid:


Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Heath Bell David Hernandez Matt Reynolds J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Cory Gearrin
Baltimore Jim Johnson Darren O’Day Pedro Strop
Boston Andrew Bailey Junichi Tazawa Koji Uehara
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Kyuji Fujikawa Carlos Marmol
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton J.J. Hoover
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Joe Smith
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Wilton Lopez Rex Brothers
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Phil Coke
Houston Jose Veras Wesley Wright Hector Ambriz
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Tim Collins
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Jerome Williams Ryan Madson
LAD Brandon League Kenley Jansen Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Michael Gonzalez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Brandon Lyon LaTroy Hawkins Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Fernando Salas Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Jean Machi Santiago Casilla
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Carter Capps Charlie Furbush
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Darren Oliver Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Drew Storen Tyler Clippard

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

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When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias

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Betancourt down with an injury O_o


how seriously hurt is betancourt? I read it’s only day to day


I grabbed Brothers as well. If he is the future closer, with numbers that good, he should get some experience there this year. At least, thats my 2 cents.


Thanks to both of you. I’d guessed the same and made the same choice; good to see that confirmed.


Wilton Lopez or Rex Brothers the better pickup?


I grabbed Brothers. The numbers don’t lie.